Updated: Dec 19, 2018
Let's face it, not everyone is going to have a huge budget to get a music video done. In fact, most people expect, yes I said expect, you to do it for free. There's a fine line between people who are trying to get something from you for nothing and people who actually want to use your services but can't afford it. I've worked with bands in the beginning of my career that had nothing to offer me except advertising and it worked out good for both of us. The thing about bands who can't pay you is that they also don't have any kind of budget, but is that really a bad thing?
If you are kind enough to accept a job like this, be prepared to guide these guys in the right direction. Sometimes, all they can bring to the table is an idea. When it comes to storyboarding and putting it all together, sometimes it'll be you that has to get the ball rolling.
I remember when I was sitting with The Uprising and we were all throwing ideas about what should happen in the videos. I remember envisioning these scenes they were talking about and thinking to myself, "How are we going to get all of these actors in the video for free and where are we going to shoot this?" This is where the budget plays an important role. Luckily, these guys were pretty resourceful. They knew we had to set up a casting for the video and we had to scout out some locations that would let us film for free. I called in a favor or two and we found the places we ended up filming at and everything fell into place.
Normally, I charge by the hour if I'm doing anything related to the video because that's my time. Since it was in the beginning of my career and these guys were like family to me, I didn't mind not getting paid. It helped that I believed in what they were doing and I loved the music so much that I just wanted to be apart of their history.
You may have just read that and said to yourself, "Wow, that's an amateur move. You should always get paid for what you do." and you would be right. The thing about me is this, filmmaking is my passion. If it's something I truly believe in, I'll do what I can to help. I loved the plot in these videos and I saw this as a challenge for me as a filmmaker since I've never shot anything like this before. I had specific visions of what I wanted to do with certain scenes and I was able to pull it off.
Never once did it cross my mind while we were shooting that we were doing this with no budget. Not once do I ever look back on it and regret it because I wanted to do it. So was it a bad thing that we had no budget? It depends on your perspective. At that point, I saw this as a challenge so I was willing to look past not getting paid and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. In return, I ended up with an experience of a lifetime. It wasn't a bad thing in my eyes. Now, if I have someone come up to me with the same proposition, I may not do it because I have a business to run and businesses have expenses. I still would do what I can to help, but there is a cost that comes with me doing something like this.
If you're running a business with tons of cost, it may not be a good idea to take on a client that can't pay you. If you're just starting out and need the experience, then go for it. The more you can get under your belt for the future, the better you'll be.
Do you agree? Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!